Taking Time to Look at the Future of Immigration with Our Closest Neighbour
It can be tough work keeping up with the changing face of immigration in Canada without having to worry about what goes on with other country’s governments, but that doesn’t make it any less important that we stay informed with what our neighbours are doing. This is especially true when it comes to the United States of America. As a nation with which we share one of the world’s longest borders, and as an ally and trading partner, the decisions that are made by the U.S.’s government affect us in myriad ways. And even without the impending U.S. presidential election, immigration is already a hot-button issue for the current administration—one that’s only being made more challenging by the fervor that has grown around the candidates’ platforms.
Barack Obama, incumbent president of the United States, is currently pushing to provide temporary legal protection for approximately four million undocumented immigrants, a plan that has sparked a significant amount of controversy. Some deem the plan unconstitutional, and others find it just as unconstitutional to not allow these individuals and families—many of whom have fled from unsafe conditions abroad—a fair opportunity to work with the best immigration lawyers available to secure legal status in the country. The plan has gone to the United States Supreme Court, but partially due to the lack of replacement for recently departed Antonin Scalia, voting has resulted in a four-four tie (the Supreme Court typically has nine sitting judges specifically to prevent such an occurrence).
While under Prime Minister Trudeau’s leadership, the Liberal government, particularly Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, is working hard to bring immigrants and refugees into our country, the future of the U.S.’s immigration system rests very heavily on their upcoming election. At the time this blog is posted, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are still in the running for the Democratic nomination. Clinton has stated that she intends to continue the work that President Obama has begun, opposing deportation raids and working to put undocumented immigrants in touch with the best immigration lawyers to assist them in gaining legal status. Sanders has also stated that he is in favour of giving legal protection to undocumented immigrants, as well as reforming both the criminal justice and the immigration system.
On the opposite end of the political spectrum, only Donald Trump remains in the Republican race—and his views on immigration couldn’t be further from those held by Clinton, Sanders, or Prime Minister Trudeau. In addition to his often-touted plans to build a wall across the American-Mexico border, there has also been a tremendous amount of controversy over his intentions to place a temporary ban on Muslim immigrants into the United States. While the country has never issued a full ban based on religion before, there are precedents for banning ethnic groups from entry in the U.S. as recently as the 19th century.
In the meantime, President Obama’s plans would not be as far-reaching as Canada’s immigration plan to grant permanent resident status to 25,000 Syrian refugees, but rather would seek to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation, giving them time to reach out to the best immigration lawyers and achieve legal status in the country.